Talking Shops

January 17th, 2019

How many industry or professional associations, networking groups, clubs, social or sporting interest groups and so forth are you really deriving meaningful benefit from? By “meaningful”, I mean when you look at the scarcity of your time and energy today and the year ahead, who do you really need to spend time with this year? I draw a sharp distinction with symbolic benefit. Invites to attend, speak, and participate with people by virtue of your status that do little or nothing to the life you want to lead or serve only to address your past professional or personal needs.

Who is really going to help you with your business and career growth? Who is really going to provide the dramatic learning and development opportunities that you need to acquire? Who is really going to provide you with the experiences, gratification and fun that you desire?

I’ll bet for most of us we could drop 30% of the memberships, associations, clubs, groups, events, and interests, with zero impact on our lives. Many don’t because they procrastinate (“I’ll give it a miss next year”) and never get around to making those changes. Others think that past success is a reason for sticking with it when in reality the ship has sailed. The club or group today is less diverse, less attractive to the most successful and is merely a talking shop. A forum for the bloviates to boast about their success, their years of affiliation and to ignore the reality.

Agenda Despair

January 15th, 2019

Is there anything so boring, insidious and dumb as people with an agenda? Where every event or action is shoehorned into their agenda, to prove its’ “worth”. Where transgressions are met with howling scorn and calls for a scapegoat. We need to be cruel to be kind – shut down the conversation.

Hunting or Praying

January 14th, 2019

“Welcome, Mr Bond. I’ve been expecting you!”

In the new “normal”, where volatility and disruption pervade, almost every business manager and investor faces a stark choice. Pray for a return to “gentler” times of old that almost certainly will never happen or hunt for new opportunities? If you consider, rightly, the latter the lower risk option, are you consistently investing time with people, who you know or suspect have a need for your unique value in these times? Start with:

  • Client buyers
  • New buyers within existing clients
  • Buyers within new suppliers
  • Buyers within new distributors
  • Buyers within your clients’ competitors (domestic/international)
  • Buyers at your past clients
  • Buyers with new responsibilities (M&A, consolidation, new markets)
  • Buyers in new prospects and targets of opportunities
  • New referral sources from non-buyers to your ideal buyers
  • New business partner collaborations with your ideal buyers
  • New content ideas for hosted events appealing to your ideal buyers
  • New industry speaking or event hosts focused on your ideal buyers
  • New publishing ideas attractive to your ideal buyers immediate/relevant needs
  • New media and PR sources for promotion to your ideal buyers

If not, why not?

Opportunity abounds in this economy for those with the discipline, talent and work ethic to search for it. There is no “short cut”. After all, the alternative is pretty unpalatable.

Entrepreneur’s Talk

January 10th, 2019

I meet a great many entrepreneurs, who readily talk about the fears that grip their clients but a small minority, who will voluntarily talk about their own fears and the consequences. It is “as if” vulnerability = failure or weakness. When in fact it is the polar opposite.

The reluctance to talk has a spiralling effect on individuals’ health and wellbeing, where stress is overlaid by more stress. That is why very few entrepreneurs succeed long-term without a strong support system. People, who are ideally placed to listen and offer qualified feedback. To be blunt, to be honest and to be supportive. Who those individuals are only the entrepreneur can ultimately determine.

A French Perspective

January 7th, 2019

Warning: you may find this raises your blood pressure!

1. Educated and successful French businessmen predominantly see Brexit as a disaster befalling the United Kingdom. Too small to influence geopolitics, too confused to carve out a strong and dynamic economy.

2. They largely adhere to a “Macron view” of a fully-integrated core (single budget, defence force, diplomatic group), embracing France, Germany, Netherlands and the Benelux countries. Outer circles embracing other existing members but not with the same benefits.

3. They react with horror to the Macron admission just as they do the actions of the Gilets Jaunes that if the French population was given a “Yes/No” referendum on EU membership now, they’d probably vote to leave.

4. The decades old culture of entitlement has created a customer service level in restaurants, bars and shops that is in the bottom quartile of G20 countries. Those exceptions are powerful reminders that endeavour and kindness are not “prisoners” of bureaucracy.

5. Commercial and lifestyle imperatives are discernibly relaxing Sunday closing hours.

6. The ability to buy and eat highly affordable, diverse and wonderful food and wine with the possible exception of Italy remains unrivalled in the Western world.

7. Thriving small and mid-sized businesses and entrepreneurs offer France the greatest hope for future prosperity so long as the State will get out of their way (taxes, labour regulation, incentives).

8. France would benefit from a more confident global marketing initiative to sustain its’ position as the top global tourism destination (think the “Great Britain” campaign). One that vividly told amazing stories of local culture, success and experiences alongside regional diversity.

9. France doesn’t lack amazing minds and hard workers, what it does lack is an environment, which truly celebrates entrepreneurialism and the creation of opportunities. Specifically, exemplars and organisations that are feted for distributing wealth, not just hoarding wealth.

10. You learn more about the real France today by what you see, not what you hear or you read. It is a beguiling country, immersed in a complex battle around the creation and distribution of wealth and accountability (individual vs State). The evolution of societal norms, its’ geopolitical relevance and the beliefs that underpin its’ past success and a brighter future.

Me, Me, Me

January 7th, 2019

Is there a more inconsiderate demonstration of self-serving human behaviour than the person with a streaming cold or sore throat, who insists on positioning themselves in close proximity to others when alternative seats exist minimising potential infection?

A Very French Protest

December 30th, 2018

By day and night, the gilets jaunes tirelessly man the “barricades” on the edge of a main roundabout in Cannes. Their grievances with President Macron and his policies ever expanding. Reports this weekend are that just 66,000 took to the streets in protest across France. At what point does the symbolism lead to fatigue? It looks like very soon.

Entrepreneur’s Equity

December 13th, 2018

I am often asked by founders and entrepreneurs in small businesses, “at what point should I consciously start sharing equity in order to attract and retain key people?” My retort, which stuns a lot of them, is “why would you ever consider doing that?”

After all, as the founder or entrepreneur, you have taken all the financial and non-financial risk to this point, you have established the business to maximise your independence and freedom, and you have paid your employees handsome salaries, bonuses and benefits for producing expected or superior results. 

A great many founders and entrepreneurs confuse gifting equity with two issues: (1) “producing results” and (2) “rewarding results”. 

You produce results by hiring qualified people, creating a positive environment, giving them clear objectives, metrics (progress and success),  accountabilities and timelines.

You reward results through a range of financial and non-financial incentives (pay, benefits, bonuses, gratifying work and meaningful career progression).   

My point here is not that you would never offer equity to a key individual but rather you must have absolute clarity about what you are seeking to ideally accomplish, the alternatives, the pros and cons of each and the best solution for your business. Being “frightened of them walking out” is rarely ever a good reason for an entrepreneur or founder to do it without rationally  examining your “fear”.    

Problem Gambling Addicts

December 12th, 2018

A number of well-meaning individuals, who have suffered the consequences of gambling addiction in the UK have made it their mission in life to educate others about the risks of gambling. Here is the irony, in arriving to solve the problem, they end up becoming the problem.

They routinely confuse their unfortunate “past” with the requisite skills, behaviours and expertise to productively educate others about a healthy coexistence with gambling. A legal enterprise and form of entertainment for millions that is not disappearing anytime soon. They view themselves as “better” qualified to help. They enlist political support and disproportionate media coverage because they see themselves as “victims” (of avaricious gambling companies) and the media are only too ready to help them tell their story. Their tales are powerful images of lives destroyed fuelled by low self-esteem, talent and judgement. Yet rarely do you see them taking individual accountability.

When they are offered the chance to collaborate with other “experts”, who have successfully drawn a livelihood from sports betting, they find it “contradictory”. It is hard not to conclude that their new found self-confidence has stepped over into arrogance.  Their policy (blanket bans) and educational approaches (prevention) are not a common sense solution to the real world problems that we face in today’s society. 

Let’s be clear the proliferation of fixed odds betting terminals in UK betting shops, and adverts that promote bets the punter cannot win long-term on (Skybet, Bet 365) and delusionary levels of self-esteem have no place. Beyond that there is an urgent need for people with a depth and breadth of knowledge and unbiased views about sports betting (rarely problem gamblers) to inform impressionable youngsters. 

What Is Your Point

December 12th, 2018

If you insist on asking a question seeking an answer that conforms to your worldview, and you show zero interest in the response or instantly reject an opposing view, why should someone invest further time with you?